In every aspect of our lives we will face criticism and or feedback. What’s the difference you ask? You can look up the dictionary meaning but my short version is as follows:
The only purpose of Criticism is to hurt, put down, belittle or deride whilst making the deliverer feel better about their short comings. Feedback on the other hand, should be, and when delivered properly, is constructive. So when it does come your way, how do you handle it and what do you do with it? Let me tell you about my recent experience.
The other night I was at my local Toastmasters International club. For those of you who haven’t heard of Toastmasters, It’s an international organisation which teaches public speaking skills. If you fear speaking in public (and 73% of the population do) or you need to improve your skills, I strongly recommend it. You’ll get an opportunity to speak at every meeting and be evaluated by another member. The evaluation is the critical component because it identifies not only your strengths but the areas in which you need to improve. I have been a member for many years and even as a professional speaker and trainer, I continue to attend for 2 main reasons. The first is I want to continue to hone my skills and so I take every opportunity to speak and receive feedback. The second, and most important is that it’s an opportunity for me to give back to the new or less experienced members. When I started my journey, I would have never followed my path and gained the skills and the confidence without the support and guidance from experienced members so now, as one of those experienced members, it’s my time to nurture and guide others.
Anyway, going back to the other night, I gave a speech and was being evaluated by a very experienced Toastmaster. Now this gentleman provides quality feedback but every now and then, I think in an effort to provide humour, he loses his way and the other night was no exception! In the midst of his commentary he pops out with “and Con is 7 -8 kilo’s overweight”, WHAT????!!!!!. As expected, he achieved his desired result as he got a few laughs at my expense but there were also some raised eyebrows. More importantly, how did I deal with it? I find this strategy extremely useful and if your ego is easily activated, as it used to be, I suggest you give this a try.
What was the intent? Knowing him the way I do, I know his comment was not delivered with any malice and his sole intention was to get a laugh at my expense. Of course the irony is that he is probably 15-20kg over weight!
How is this relevant? Obviously NOT AT ALL. Given I was there to continue to improve my speaking skills, my weight, right or wrong had nothing to do with the quality of my presentation or was in any way going to help me improve.
Given the answers above, I totally dismissed it in the context of my speech and moved on immediately, unlike my younger, less “emotionally self-aware” self, who would have confronted him seeking either an apology, retribution or both. Next.
Is this relevant or useful in any other area of my life? Look, I know I am no fly weight and it would be good to drop 4 or 5kg’s but I’m in good health and it’s not a priority and anyway, given my love of chocolate and desserts in general, it would be very challenging so again, the comment was dismissed forever. If however, it had of pushed my buttons and surfaced my want and need to lose weight, I could use it as fuel to motivate me. The point is, at all stages, it was my choice how I dealt with the comments as it is yours!
I look forward to your thoughts and any feedback.
To your success
And until next time,
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
One of the most important communication skills we can possess is the art of listening.
We were born with 2 ears and 1 mouth and we should use them in those proportions but far too many people don’t and so, if you ARE a good listener, that my good folks works to your advantage!
It’s a fact that humans love to talk and many love to talk about themselves. If you are an active and skilled listener, just think how much you will learn about the other person.
This is particularly applicable in a sales situation. Let me explain.
If you are in sales, the best way to serve your customer is to understand their needs and the best way to do that is to ask quality questions then zip it and let them talk. The longer they talk, the more you learn about:
The ability to be an active listener combined with asking better questions is universally beneficial
In his book “Never Split the Difference”, former FBI Hostage negotiator, Chris Voss talks about the “Black Swan”. Black Swans are pieces of information gained by letting the other person speak and actively listening which completely changes the balance of the negotiation. The more you let people talk, the more likely they will reveal a “Black Swan”.
Add to the fact that people want to talk, they also find silence awkward and uncomfortable. Become comfortable around the uncomfortableness and you’ll have the other person singing like a bird. As the saying goes, “he who speaks first loses”
Another huge advantage of being a good listener is that it helps you to respond rather than react. As a good listener, you are really listening to understand what is driving the other person. Don’t confuse understanding and empathy with agreement. Just because you are empathetic and understand where the other person is coming from, it doesn’t automatically mean you agree with their perspective or point of view.
A mentor once told me “You already know what you know, shut up, listen and you’ll learn something new”
Work on those listening skills and reap the rewards.
Until next time
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
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Remember, the quality of your communication will ultimately determine the level of your success.
Con is an accomplished and articulate speaker and presenter with over 25 years of high level sales experience.